The Obama Administration’s Race-Baiting Campaign
Democrats want 2014 to be an us-versus-them election.

Attorney General Eric Holder


Andrew C. McCarthy

The first thing to remember is that, with the Obama administration, there are no coincidences.

The attorney general of the United States is engaged in a shocking extrajudicial publicity campaign. Eric Holder is prosecuting George Zimmerman in the court of public opinion because he knows he wouldn’t have a prayer of convicting him in a court of law. Worse, in doing so, Holder is quite deliberately stoking resentment and tension — under the guise of leading a “national conversation” about race.

At precisely the same time, the United States secretary of health and human services has loathsomely injected race into the debate over Obamacare. Toward the conclusion of this week’s NAACP grievance fest, Kathleen Sebelius took the podium to demagogue Obamacare opponents. The fight against them, she inveighed, is reminiscent of “the fight against lynching and the fight for desegregation.” She made these inflammatory remarks just as violence was erupting over Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin shooting, no small thanks to Holder’s accomplice, Al Sharpton.

These episodes are not unrelated. They are coordinated.

The second thing to bear in mind is that race-baiting is the last resort of scoundrels whose insipid policy claims cannot survive collision with real-world conditions. The incitements that transform policy debates into an us-versus-them rumble are not about race per se. They are about advancing a hard-left agenda through the community organizer’s crude bag of tricks — the extortion that Alinskyites euphemistically call “direct action.” It is what happens when social-justice prescriptions turn out to be unjust and unworkable.

Sebelius is not agitating because she actually believes there is some faint connection between Jim Crow and opposition to socialized medicine. Sensing that no one was looking as the country kicked back for an extended Independence Day weekend, the president’s Myrmidons conceded that Obamacare is collapsing of its own fiscally reckless weight. Alinskyites are about power. Obama realizes he won’t have much left if Democrats are yoked to a smoldering train wreck in advance of the 2014 midterms. So he is struggling to keep it a looming train wreck. A third-string Treasury bureaucrat was thus dispatched to announce, in passing, that Obama has “waived” the employer mandate until 2015.

Quite apart from the lawless imperiousness of this maneuver, it is not going to work. Not being well acquainted with the private sector, the president may not realize that, for corporate executives, planning ahead means more than scheduling the next tee time. As National Review’s editors have observed, Obamacare has already “complicated business decisions touching on everything from long-term investments to hiring to the number of hours worked by part-time employees.” It is, right now, a ball and chain around the ankle of a high-unemployment, no-growth economy.

Even if Obama gets his way — such that only the employer mandate is delayed, with Republicans unable to shame Senate Democrats into putting off the equally noxious individual mandate — the calendar is not in his favor. The administration cannot allow 2014 to be an election about policy. It has to be an us-versus-them election, with the “us” enjoying the “animated by rage” advantage. What we saw from Holder and Sebelius this week is the ugly start of a wickedly divisive enterprise.

The rule of law demands that criminal statutes be applied faithfully and that law-enforcement officials respect due process by conducting their investigations in silence, speaking publicly only when they are prepared to file charges they can prove in court. Yet Holder and his Department of Social Justice have publicly and unethically agitated against George Zimmerman for over a year: partnering with Sharpton, saber-rattling about a federal civil-rights prosecution, and browbeating Florida officials into charging Zimmerman with murder despite evidence woefully insufficient to meet the statute’s terms.

Now, Holder is ensnared in this web of his own making. The state prosecution predictably failed, and it turns out there has never been a plausible civil-rights prosecution. Holder can commission all the bizarre anti-Zimmerman “tip lines” he likes; it won’t fill the cavernous holes in his case.

Obviously, he knows this. But he has also dramatically raised the expectations of Obama’s hard-left base — and note that the anti-Zimmerman protests are being driven at least as much by Occupy types and outfits such as the Party for Socialism and Liberation as by anguished supporters of the Martin family. After all the attorney general’s bold talk, they want to know where the civil-rights indictment is. Holder’s stall is that he is “investigating,” but Trayvon Martin was killed nearly a year and a half ago. How long does it take to investigate a comparatively straightforward altercation about which Florida has already completed a full-blown trial and the FBI has already conducted exhaustive interviews?

So in his NAACP stem-winder, Holder refocused the community organizer’s lens from civil-rights laws to “stand your ground” (SYG) laws. You are to believe that, while he’d love to charge that civil-rights case, he is being frustrated — justice is being frustrated — by these self-defense provisions that “sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.” According to Holder, justice for Trayvon mandates that SYG be repealed. Effectively, the attorney general would surrender the streets to criminal aggressors by imposing a “duty to retreat” on law-abiding citizens.

SYG has become the proxy for the case the Left can’t win. The game is given away by Holder’s race-mongering echo chamber. Pressed by Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, radio commentator Tavis Smiley admitted that Zimmerman’s trial had been consistent with Florida law. But, he groused, “it’s the law I have a problem with.” Taking Holder’s bloviating to its illogical end, Smiley explained that Florida law gave Zimmerman a “right to stand his ground” but insidiously deprived Martin of this same right because our nation generally views black men “as a menace to society.”


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review